How do we reconcile our commitment to our capitalist economy with the true underpayment of attorneys in America? Capitalism possesses a theoretical basis in quality through competition. Yet, our private, corporate sector disavows its obligation to engage professional development through adequate and equal compensation. For, a great disparity exists between executive salaries and those of private sector attorneys, as to both in-house counsel and private law firms. This exists despite the fact that attorneys must attend graduate school at a younger age.
An argument posed by the corporate sector is that business persons, young and old, are paid more because they generate more business, more value added in a capitalist economy. Yet, the business sector must acknowledge that private sector attorneys are within a profession that lofts the overarching common law under which our world exists and under which corporate transactions and technological developments occur. The common law has existed from time immemorial and our modern world recognizes it in an international sphere.
A structural solution must be created that acknowledges that not only do young, private sector law firm attorneys not benefit from term-in-years employment agreements as do corporate employees. They, instead, work on an at-will basis with no employment security. Also, attorneys are governed by ethical codes imposed by law that result in the quality of thought we readily discern. This, in addition to inadequate compensation, creates anxiety and stress in a profession but for the quality of which we would not possess the talents and abilities upon which we rely.
The answer is to begin from the top with our multi-national corporations. These corporate entities employ law firms and pay far less in compensation for the legal services they receive than is acceptable. The stress and professional hardship incurred by law firm attorneys and staff must be mitigated by payment of higher legal retainers by corporations. In turn, government attorneys would also receive greater compensation. For, our society must realize that our taxes paid are necessary for life essentials. If higher taxes are required, so be it.